Kansas City Chiefs player Shaun Smith wasn't surprised that fellow teammate Jovan Belcher, who was accused of shooting his girlfriend nine times before killing himself Saturday, had a gun, saying if you have a daughter, you should own a gun.
"Just because we're NFL players, it doesn't make us no different. Some of you guys probably have guns in your houses. If you have daughters, you should. You never know when somebody might try to rob you or do whatever, you know?" defensive tackle Smith said Monday when asked about a “gun culture” in professional sports, according to USA Today.
"At one point a couple years ago, it was nothing but a bunch of home invasions, and you've got to protect yourself. You work so hard to get to where you're at, and I'd be damned if I just let somebody take it away from me, period."
Smith's comments come two days after Belcher shot and killed his 22-year-old girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, the mother of his 3-month-old daughter, Zoey, at their Kansas City home in front of his own mother on Saturday morning. Belcher then jumped in his black Bently and drove about five miles to Arrowhead Stadium. There, he was met by general manager Scott Pioli and Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel, who tried to talk him out of harming himself, police said. As police approached, Belcher shot himself in the head.
“As they approached, a subject later identified as Jovan Belcher, observed their presence and moved to an area behind a vehicle,” an incident report released Monday said. “From that position Belcher shot himself one time in the head.” Belcher was taken to a hospital, where he died, the report said, according to the Washington Post.
Crennel said when he spoke with Belcher in the parking lot of team headquarters, he had never before seen Belcher with any sort of weapon before Saturday morning.
“All I know was there was a player with a gun, and that’s not a good thing,” Crennel said. “I was trying to get him to understand that life is not over, he still has a chance and let’s get this worked out.”
But Crennel said at the time Belcher knew something he didn't know: Belcher had just committed a murder.
Gun control is needed
It is a murder that gun control advocates, such as FoxSports columnist Jason Whitlock said didn't have to happen. Though police said Monday that firearms found at the couple’s home were legally registered to Belcher, "if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today," Whitlock said in a piece Saturday night that sparked an explosive debate on the issues of gun control and gun ownership in America.
Then during NBC’s Football Night in America broadcast Sunday night, anchor Bob Costas used Whitlock's piece during his half-time commentary sending gun owners into a spin.
“The majority of people own them, you know, especially in the places that they’re legal,” said Chiefs linebacker Brandon Siler, who seemed surprised when he learned a reporter in the Chiefs locker room Monday did not own a weapon. “People don’t go out and shoot other people. Most of the time they’re for self-defense or sport."
Like Smith, Siler wasn't surprised that Belcher owned a gun. He knew Belcher was a gun owner, telling USA Today that Belcher was neither showy about his weapons, nor did he ever threaten to use them.
"It's a regular thing. It wasn't a thing where he had guns and it was like, 'Hey, I'm going to shoot somebody,' no," Siler said. "There was never anything like that. I really can't tell you what happened. I've never seen signs of that before."
Epidemic of domestic violence
Linebacker Andy Studebaker said Saturday's tragedy isn't just about gun control. “I see it as a bigger issue. I don’t want to get caught up in the little things,” Studebaker said. “It’s about a lot of things – it’s not about one thing, and it’s not about an NFL superstar, because this could happen to anybody and anytime, it just happened here.”
The Washington Post notes, "Three women most likely died Saturday at the hand of their husband or boyfriend, but the only one who made international headlines was Kasandra Perkins."
In the United States, every 15 seconds a woman is beaten, according to the FBI. Each day, 3 women die as the result of domestic violence from a boyfriend or husband.
*If you or someone you know are in an abusive relationship or think that you are, please call the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Hotline advocates are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year to provide confidential crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.